The Scottish Government today outlined the positive case for independence, highlighting Scotland’s economic strengths.
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, highlighted seven key strengths of Scotland’s economy.
1. Overall Wealth: An independent Scotland would be ranked 6th in the OECD in terms of GDP per head, compared to the UK's sixteenth place (in 2010).
2. Oil: There is up to 24 billion barrels remaining in the North Sea. Such a figure equates to a wholesale value of some £1.5 trillion in today's prices.
3. Renewables: Scotland has around 25 percent of Europe’s potential offshore wind and tidal energy, and a tenth of Europe’s wave power potential.
4. Food & Drink: The latest food and drink export figures show exports are at an all time high of £5.4 billion, and growing.
5. Public Finances: In terms of our public finances, Scotland is better off than the UK as a whole to the tune of £510 for every man, women and child in Scotland in the most recent year (2010/11).
6. Education: Scotland has five of the top 200 universities in the world.
7. Inward Investment: Scottish Development International are an award winning agency, with major companies continuing to locate in Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon said:
“Whilst The Economist blundered into the economic debate on Scottish independence, it is clear that Scotland has a strong economy – despite the global recession – and that we have huge potential for further growth and development.
"Scotland today has a highly skilled workforce, an acclaimed record of business investment, a large oil and gas asset base, huge natural resources, including our job-creating green energy industry, and an excellent export record, especially in the food and drink sector.
“There is much to be done to make Scotland even better, but Scotland’s Seven Key Strengths will remind every Scot that our nation is one we can be proud of now, and confident about for the future. While Scotland has a higher rate of employment and lower economic inactivity than the UK as a whole, we need to do more to reduce unemployment and tackle poverty.
"But we know that we have huge potential as a nation – and that with the powers of independence we can do more.”
FURTHER INFORMATION ON SCOTLAND’S SEVEN KEY STRENGTHS
1. OVERALL WEALTH: RANKED 6TH IN OECD
An independent Scotland would be ranked 6th in the OECD in terms of GDP per head, compared to the UK's sixteenth place (in 2010).
2. OIL: NORTH SEA RESERVES WORTH £1.5 TRILLION
Oil and Gas UK estimate that the North Sea has up to 24 billion barrels of oil remaining. Such a figure could equate to a potential wholesale value of nearly £1.5 trillion in today's prices suggesting more than half the economic value of the North Sea's reserves have still to be extracted
In January, a leading industry player Wood Mackenzie published a report showing that in 2011 capital investment in North Sea Oil was £7.5 billion – the highest ever. It is expected to stay high with £2 billion being invested in the West of Shetland field alone in 2012.
3. RENEWABLES: HUGE POTENTIAL FOR FURTHER GROWTH
Scotland’s natural energy resources are not restricted to oil and gas. We have around 25% of Europe’s potential offshore wind and tidal energy, and a tenth of Europe’s wave power potential.
An extra 45% of renewable energy was generated in Scotland last year according to the latest figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change – meaning that around 35% of Scotland’s electricity needs came from renewables in 2011 – surpassing the Scottish Government target of 31%. The Scottish Government aims to generate the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s electricity from renewables by 2020.
4. FOOD & DRINK: EXPORTS AT ALL TIME HIGH
The latest food and drink export figures, published last month, show exports are at an all time high of £5.4 billion, and growing.
Our top food and drink exports markets were France (up 18 per cent to £825m) and USA (30 per cent increase £726m). Strong growth was achieved in Asia, with 44 per cent increases in both Singapore (£319m) and China (92m).
5. PUBLIC FINANCES: £510 BETTER OFF PER HEAD
In terms of our public finances, in 2010/11 Scotland was in a stronger fiscal position relative to the UK as a whole by £2.7 billion, according to the latest Government Expenditure Revenue Scotland (GERS) report.
The equates to Scotland being better off than the UK as a whole to the tune of £510 for every man, women and child in Scotland in the most recent year (2010/11).
6. EDUCATION: SCOTS UNIVERSITIES AMONGST BEST IN THE WORLD
Scotland has 5 of the top 200 universities in the world, all of which are benefitting from unprecedented funding. We therefore produce some of the best graduates in the world to support economic success.
The Scottish Government is providing an unprecedented number of modern apprenticeships tailored to business needs as part of its Opportunities for All initiative guaranteeing a learning or training opportunity for all 16-19 year olds in Scotland not already in work. We are delivering a record 25,000 Modern Apprentices this year and in each year of this parliament.
7. INWARD INVESTMENT: AWARD WINNING SUCCESS
Scottish Development International are judged one of the most successful international development agencies in the world.
Scotland’s inward investment record punches above its weight in international markets. Our foreign direct investment agency is independently recognised as one of the most successful in the world with the most recent Ernst & Young UK Attractiveness Survey, highlighting Scotland’s leading position in the UK for job creation from international investment.
Most recently, Gamesa announced last month a £125m investment creating 800 new jobs in renewable energy at Leith in Edinburgh, rather than Hartlepool.
In addition, leading international companies such as Scottish Power, Samsung Heavy Industries, Glaxosmithkline, Amazon, Avaloq, Dell, Gamesa, BNY Mellon, State Street and Mitsubishi Power Systems have all recently announced significant investments demonstrating confidence in Scotland.